The author pays tribute to those who stimulated him to follow a career in clinical cardiothoracic surgery and experimental transplantation. Highlights of his career have been in contributing to (i) the first hypothermic perfusion storage of the donor heart to be used successfully in clinical practice, (ii) hormonal therapy in the management of the brain-dead potential organ donor, (iii) the identification of Galα1,3Gal as the major antigenic target for primate natural anti-pig antibodies, (iv) the 2-to 6-month survival of α1,3-galactosyltransferase gene-knockout hearts transplanted into baboons, and (v) the 3-to 12-month normoglycemia following the transplantation of islets from CD46-transgenic pigs into diabetic monkeys. Many friends have been made through a mutual interest in transplantation, particularly through the activities of the International Xenotransplantation Association (IXA). The author thanks the many mentors, colleagues, and research fellows with whom it has been his great privilege and pleasure to work during the past several decades, and readily acknowledges that it is largely their contributions that have enabled him to receive the honor of Honorary Membership of the IXA. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.